You’re no doubt aware that Disney World, along with Disney properties around the world, closed the gates to their Magic Kingdoms in March, in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Thankfully, what was closed will reopen again! Disney officials are eager to welcome guests back to the parks, but want to be sure it’s done safely.
Updated: 10 June 2020
M-I-C… See ya real soon! (As in, July!)
K-E-Y… Why? Because we miss you!
In late May, Disney World submitted their plans to begin a measured re-opening of the Happiest Place on Earth, following the successful reopening of Shanghai Disney Resort, and Disney Springs in Orlando:
“Pending Orange County and state approval, our Walt Disney World Resort proposal plans for Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom to begin a phased reopening to the general public on July 11, followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15.” – Disney Parks Blog
It will not be a return to normal, though. Among the proposed safety measures are limiting park capacity and a new reservations system for park entry. According to Disney CEO Bob Chapek, the parks will “continue to follow enhanced safety protocols based upon applicable guidance from health authorities and government agencies…”
How Visiting Disney World Is Changing
Here are the details we have learned so far:
- Cast members and all guests over age 3 will be required to wear face coverings, both in the parks and in common areas of resort hotels.
- Guests and Cast will be screened for temperature before entering a theme park.
- Cashless transactions are recommended.
- Cleaning and disinfection procedures will be increased in high-traffic areas.
- Some “large gathering” attractions and events – like parades and nighttime spectaculars – will not return immediately.
- “High-touch” events, such as character Meet & Greets, Bippity Boppity Boutique makeovers, and playgrounds, are also on hold.
Though not mentioned, we also expect social distancing guidance (such as floor markers) in queues for rides and attractions, as was seen in Shanghai.
Perhaps hardest of all, interactions with Disney characters will be socially distanced. Which makes us wonder: How you tell a toddler (or a teenager, or an adult!) that they can’t hug Mickey Mouse???
Additional details have surfaced in various Disney-related blogs and news stories. Chief among them are that the revolutionary FastPass+ system will be suspended in order to allow for queuing. This seems counter-intuitive; it seems to us that only offering FastPass would eliminate the lines altogether. As guests return to the parks, and Disney refines policies and procedures, ride queues are likely to be a focus point.
Extra Magic Hours
Also on hold are the beloved Extra Magic Hours. One of the best perks of staying on site (at a premium versus nearby hotels) is the ability to get into the parks early, or stay late. No word on when that benefit might return.
While rides and restaurants will be open, there will be social distancing measures in place: Restaurant seating will be reduced by half, and rides will have empty seats to separate guests. One assumes families will be allowed to sit together, perhaps with empty rows between groups.
Attendance levels are also a question yet to be answered. We know that entry into the parks will require reservations when they re-open, but there’s no word on how many reservations will be available each day. The larger Disney World parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom) can handle 80,000 daily visitors. The expectation is that, at least at first, attendance will be capped at less than half of that. (Shanghai Disneyland was limited by the government to one-third of capacity.)
Exactly sixty-five years after the historic opening of Disneyland, the park gates will reopen on July 17, 2020! Plans still need state and local government approvals, but the tentative plan is for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks to reopen on 17 July, with Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel reopening on 23 July. Ahead of those dates, the Downtown Disney shopping and dining district will begin reopening on 9 July.
When Disneyland reopens, it will have many of the same restrictions and changes as we expect to see at Disney World. Park capacity will be significantly limited using the same park reservation system. Similar to Disney World, ticket sales and Annual Passport sales are on pause, and reservations have been cancelled. Guests will need a new reservation in advance of entry.
Just like Disney World, all of the “large group” gatherings, such as parades and nighttime spectaculars, remain on hold. Those beloved but “high touch” character meet and greets will be paused, too. Rides will be limited, and guests will be reminded of social distancing guidelines, both by signage and trained cast members. Plus, masks will be required for most guests.
Disney Around the World
You may be wandering about Disney’s other parks and properties, especially after Shanghai Disneyland reopened in May. While specifics are few and far between, it’s safe to assume we will see similar restrictions and measures at all parks. Here is the tentative schedule we’ve been able to assemble from various reports:
- Hong Kong Disneyland: 18 June 2020
- Tokyo Disney Resort: Second half of 2020
- Disneyland Paris: September 2020
See You Real Soon!
Visiting Disney is a dream for most, from child to senior citizen. It’s hard, sometimes, to put off a dream trip, but we can at least start planning our visits to the Magic Kingdoms once again. We will keep an eye on developments, and update this post as warranted.
If you manage to visit any of the Disney parks, especially in the early days following reopenings, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.
Thanks for reading along.